The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “procedure of initiating a disciple” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 18 - The procedure of initiating a disciple

Śaunaka said:—

1. On hearing that extremely wonderful secret, the essence of the Vedānta, what did Vāmadeva ask of the son of Maheśvara?

2. Blessed indeed is the Yogin Vāmadeva, who is ever engaged in Śaivitc activities and about whom this divine and highly sacred story has come about.

3. On hearing these words, pregnant with love, of the sages, the delighted Sūta, the scholar whose mind is attached to Śiva, spoke to them.

4. You are all blessed. You are the devotees of lord Śiva You help all the worlds, O sages, you hear further their conversation.

5. On hearing the words of Kārttikeya, that quell dualism and produce non-dualistic knowledge the sage became delighted.

6. After bowing to Kārttikeya, son of Śiva and eulogising him in various ways the great sage asked him again regarding the principles, with great humility.

Vāmadeva said:—

7. O lord Kārttikeya, O ocean of nectar, O knower of all principles, how can the ascetics of purified souls attain the position of a preceptor?

8. They cannot have the authority to instruct without a tradition following which the individual souls attain worldly pleasures and salvation.

9. Similarly how is the ceremonial ablution an ancillary to the rite of shaving? O lord, herein I intimate to you this doubt of mine. It behoves you to clear it.

Subrahmaṇya said:—

10. On hearing the words of Vāmadeva Kārttikeya began to explain after thinking upon Śiva and Śivā.

11. I shall explain Yogapaṭṭa whereby one attains the state of a preceptor. It is a great secret that yields salvation and O Vāmadeva, it is due to my affection to you that I mention it to you.

12-15. During any of these months Vaiśākha, Śrāvaṇa, Āśvina, Kārttika, Mārgaśīrṣa or Māgha, on an auspicious day in the bright half, either on the fifth or on the full moon day the disciple shall finish his daily morning duties. Taking permission from the preceptor he shall take his bath. With restrained mind he shall sit on his hams. With a cloth he shall wipe off the limbs. He shall wear two cloths after tying the waist-band with twice-spun thread. He shall then wash his feet and perform Ācamana twice. After dusting his body with Bhasma he shall wear Tripuṇḍra marks with Sadyādi mantra.[1]

16-17. O sage, the preceptor shall grasp the disciple with his hands and make him sit facing east on a well decorated platform on a pure excellent seat—a cloth, a deerskin or Darbha grass. The disciple shall be wrapped in the cloth.

18. Then he shall take a conch with its stand and purify it with Astra mantra. He shall then place it in front of him on a favourable position.

19. After worshipping the conch with its pedestal with flowers he shall pour pure water into it sanctified by Astra and Varma mantras.

20. After filling it, it shall be worshipped again in the manner mentioned in Ṣaḍaṅga Pūjā. Then he shall repeat the Praṇava seven times.

21. He shall worship it with scents and flowers and show lights and incense. He shall then cover up the conch with Astra and Varma mantras.

22-23. He shall then show the mystic gestures of the cow and conch. In a pure spot to the south of the conch and in front of him he shall make a beautiful and auspicious Maṇḍala according to the rules of worship and worship it with sweet scents and flowers.

24-25. He shall place a pot on its pedestal. It shall be pure and scrubbed well. Threads should be neatly tied round it. It shall be fumigated with incense and filled with pure fragrant water. Five barks, five sprouts and five types of clay shall be mixed with sweet smelling substances and smeared over it, O great sage.

26. That pot shall be decorated and embellished with cloths, mango leaves, Dūrvā grass, coconut flowers and other articles.

27. O great sage, he shall put five gems into the pot or if they are not available he shall put gold into it.

28. The five gems are: amethyst, ruby, gold ingot, coral and onyx.

29. After uttering the mystic syllables “Nṛmlaskam” and “Glūm” in the end he shall perform worship in a favourable manner in accordance with the rules.

30. He shall invoke the lord along the path of five coverings in the manner prescribed for sacrifices, beginning with Ādhāra Śakti and then worship.

31. He shall offer milk pudding and cooked rice as Naivedya and the betel leaves as before. After the adoration with the repetitions of eight names, the other mantras shall be chanted.

32-33. Praṇava shall be repeated hundred and eight times. The five Brahmans beginning with Sadyojāta and ending with Īśāna shall be meditated upon. It shall be covered with Astra and Varma mantras. Incense and lights shall be waved with devotion. He shall then show the mystic gestures of cow and the vaginal passage clearly.

34. The preceptor shall then cover the vessel on the top with the Darbha grass. He shall then make a square to the northeast of the Maṇḍala.

35. Then a beautiful seat shall be put over the square in accordance with the rules. He shall then make the boy disciple sit on it in a comfortable posture.

36. The preceptor shall raise the vessel. Repeating “Svasti” he shall pour water on the head of the disciple making a circle with the inverted pot.

37. After uttering the Praṇava once first and then seven times with the names of five Brahmans he shall encircle him at the end of the ablution with the water from the conch.

38. After the rite of waving the charming light he shall wipe him with a towel. The disciple shall be made to wear a new waistband, a loin-cloth and two wearing cloths.

39-40. The feet shall be washed and Ācamana performed twice. Holding the ashes in his hands the preceptor shall smear it over the body of the disciple who is led into the Maṇḍapa and comfortably seated.

41. The preceptor shall be seated with the disciple facing the cast and desirous of spiritual knowledge. The preceptor shall tell him—“Be pure in soul.”

42-43. He shall sit steady in a trance for a short while thinking “I am the preceptor—Śiva. He shall open his eyes with the mind favourably disposed towards him and without excitement glance at the pupil who is sitting with palms joined in reverence.

44. With his hand smeared with the ashes he shall touch the head of the pupil and instruct in his right ear clearly “Haṃsaḥ Soham.”

45. “The first Ham means Śakti-Soul. Saḥ means Śiva. I am he alone.” Thus he shall reveal the meaning.

46-47. After instructing him in the meaning of “Yaḥ Aṇu’ he shall express clearly the meaning and purport of the statements in the middle. He shall tell him clearly, “O Brahmin, I shall tell you the statements. Listen and retain them in your mind.”

Footnotes and references:


See P. 1688 note 110.